The RBC Canadian Open is the third longest running event on the PGA Tour after The Open Championship and U.S. Open. This week the venerable event will be played on Glen Abbey Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus designed par-72, 7,253 yard track that features back-nine valley holes that have been witness to some of the greatest shots in Canadian golf history. This year marks the fifth time in the last six years Glen Abbey is hosting the Canadian Open. Here are five things you need to know about the 109th RBC Canadian Open.

Glen Abbey hole 11
The 11th at Glen Abbey

Inside the Field

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson headlines a field that boasts three of the top 10 players in the OWGR and eight of the top 30 players in the FedExCup Playoff standings. Thirty-three players are returning from The Open Championship including U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and World No. 10 Tommy Fleetwood. Defending champion Jhonattan Vegas can become only the fifth player in the last four decades to three-peat at an event. Other notables in this stellar field include fan-favorite Ian Poulter, rising stars Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau, and three-time winner this season Bubba Watson. Sixteen native sons including Adam Hadwin and former Masters champion Mike Weir hope to become the first Canadian to win their national open in more than 50 years.

The Valley Holes

Glen Abbey’s back-9 feature the famous “valley holes,” which begin from the elevated tee on a cliff at the par-4, 452-yard No. 11. The fairway sits down in a valley some 70-feet below the tee box, and second shots must clear the famous Sixteen Mile Creek – which also comes into play on the next three holes forcing angled shots that require absolute precision. A plaque sits on the 11th tee commemorating John Daly hitting into the creek, quite remarkable considering it’s usually a greenside hazard on approach shots, but Daly reached it with his driver.

18Birdies GPS Overview of Hole 16
18Birdies GPS Overview of Hole 16

The par-5, 516-yard 16th hole marks the end of the valley holes, and can also make or break your round. Good drives on this dogleg-left hole are rewarded with potential eagle opportunities. Poor drives are punished with bogeys or worse. When Tiger Woods won the 2010 Canadian Open he bombed his drive 348 yards into the middle of the fairway and then threw a 9-iron dart to three feet for eagle. Find the fairway on No. 16 and you’ve got a green-light-special to post a low red number.

The Most Famous Hole in Canada

By all accounts, the par-5, 524-yard 18th is the most historic hole in all of Canadian golf, where players have experienced the thrill of victory but also the agony of defeat. In 2010 Tiger Woods hit a mind-boggling 218-yard, 6-iron from a fairway bunker over the water to a pin tucked in the back-right with the tournament on the line. Woods “overcut it a bit” to 12-feet, and to this day still calls it his “greatest shot.”

Glen Abbey hole 18
Hole no. 18 at Glen Abbey

Just one week after missing The Open Championship playoff at St. Andrews by one shot in 2015, an emotional Jason Day drained a 25-foot left-to-righter on the 72nd green to win for the third time that season. Day’s win in Canada added fuel to a hot streak that would eventually make him the world’s No. 1 player. Arguably, no player has wanted to win this tournament more than national hero Mike Weir in 2004. Weir held the lead until World No. 1 Vijay Singh forced a playoff on No. 18. Then, in sudden-death Weir found water with his second shot, and his hopes of being the first Canadian to win in almost 50 years were sunk.

Glen Abbey, Glen Gone?

This year marks the 30th time Glen Abbey will host the Canadian Open. This year might also be Glen Abbey’s last. Course owner, ClubLink Corp, has plans to bulldoze the golf course and construct condos and offices in its place. Glen Abbey is the first course Jack Nicklaus ever designed, and Nicklaus says he understands the business side of residential redevelopment. However, past champions and residents are not happy. Glen Abbey first hosted the Canadian Open in 1977 and it has become an identifying and inseparable part of the town’s cultural heritage and landscape. City officials are fighting the proposal, and the matter currently sits in Toronto Superior Court.

A Canadian Rota

With the future of Glen Abbey up in the air, Golf Canada and tournament sponsor RBC has decided to play the Canadian Open on a rotation of courses in the Greater Toronto Area moving forward. The championship will return to Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ontario next year for the first time since 2012. Hamilton has previously hosted five Canadian Opens, with the first taking place in 1919. That championship featured two of the most legendary names in golf – Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet. The Canadian Open will also have a new place on the Tour schedule beginning next year, preceding the U.S. Open through at least 2023.

glen abbey hole 16
No 16 at Glen Abbey

Winner Prediction

The fairways at Glen Abbey are tough to hit, but the rough isn’t very penal, and a diverse group of big and short hitters have contended here. As you might expect from a Jack Nicklaus designed course, hitting greens at Glen Abbey is paramount, and few are hitting them at a better rate than Bubba Watson. Bubba is ranked 11th on Tour, finding greens more than 70-percent of the time. Watson is also ranked third in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and 26th in Birdie or Better Percentage – two key statistics this week. Look for Bubba to pick up an impressive fourth win of the season, and also legitimately put himself into Player of the Year contention.